Luke Fletcher MS has backed serious concerns voiced by parents over the sudden withdrawal of school transport bus services, warning that cuts to buses are proving “disastrous” for communities.
“The withdrawal of local bus services is having dire consequences for locals and leaving communities marooned” says LUKE FLETCHER MS
Plaid Cymru economy spokesperson and Member of the Senedd for South Wales West Luke Fletcher has backed serious concerns voiced by parents over the sudden withdrawal of school transport bus services, warning that cuts to buses are proving “disastrous” for communities throughout the South Wales West region.
The concerns come as parents continue to voice frustration at the current state of local bus services. Parents living outside the catchment area but sending children to Cowbridge Comprehensive School – and therefore having to pay to send their children to school on a private hire bus – have now been hit with extortionate quotes.
One Llanharan resident who sends their daughter to Cowbridge Comprehensive said: “We always knew that if we sent our daughter to a school that was just out of catchment that we would have to pay for transport.
“The cost of £113 per month for a private hire bus shared with 40 other pupils was a stretch, but necessary. Due to the cost of living crisis, the private hire costs are now unaffordable for parents at £320 per month.
“We have approached both Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils who are unwilling to help subsidise part of the costs to allow children to continue to attend Cowbridge. There are no public transport routes between the areas.”
The resident continued: “My daughter’s local secondary, Y Pant, is oversubscribed. I have been advised by Rhondda Cynon Taff council to send my daughter to Pencoed Comprehensive, which is outside RCT but does have a bus funded by RCT. The council do not appear to recognise the irony of refusing to part-fund a bus service because [Cowbridge] is outside of RCT but offering a place in a Bridgend school and providing transport.”
Residents have reported that the bus company have brought forward the cancellation of the service to the week commencing 27th March 2023. Approximately forty children who use the private hire service are now uncertain as to how, or if at all, they will get to school.
On Wednesday 22nd March, a debate was held in the Senedd led by Plaid Cymru on bus services in Wales. The debate called upon the Welsh Government to bring forward longer-term secure funding options to maintain bus services, as opposed to emergency funding schemes following concerns that failing to extend the Bus Emergency Scheme funding would result in the mass cancellation of services.
During the debate, Plaid Cymru’s economy Spokesperson Luke Fletcher MS said: “Communities in my region are underserved when it comes to public transport. Many people are solely reliant on bus services and, despite this, they are under constant threat of being cut or altered.
“School transport is an issue that we desperately need to resolve and the lack of clarity from local authorities and Welsh Government on the matter is the cause of much confusion and distress for families.
“I strongly urge the Welsh Government to clarify their role here. Fundamentally, transport should never be a barrier to education in the 21st century, and yet people are still struggling to access this essential service. Parents are desperate to see their kids arrive at school safely, and at the moment they are struggling to get them there altogether.”
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